Today I am so pleased to be part of the blog tour for Soho Teen's first YA book, What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Check out my character interview with Allie!
Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.”
On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most.
First off, can you tell us a little about yourself? What do you do for fun?
What do I do for fun? Well, I guess you could say I'm a cross between all kinds of people. I'm this complete nerd. No, really I am. Appearances are deceiving. I'm this dorky book nerd trapped in the body of a very athletic girl. I do a lot of sports, with my boyfriend, and my best friend Juliet. I can remember playing hockey at night with them when I was, like, ten, on the rink in the park, on these little lakes, even in my driveway. It's cold where we live, up here by Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, but we do the polar plunge all the time. If the water isn't frozen, we swim in it. I probably have a very strong heart as a result. I run every day, at least a couple of miles. That's mostly so I can eat, because I eat an embarrassing amount. I should weigh three hundred pounds.
You took up Parkour with your friends, Juliet and Rob. Would you have taken up the sport without their influence?
Oh Parkour? No. Totally, no, I would never have thought of doing it on my own. But if you look at Parkour on YouTube? You think, hey, I've had some hard times in my life, but this is for suicidal people. Like look at this. These guys are in London, I think, but they are jumping from the second story and doing a complete front flip in the air and then landing on their feet. You can hear the passersby gasp! When Juliet first suggested we get into it, I said, “No way.” But I actually agreed right away after I saw her leap between two buildings. I’ve never done anything harder in my life. At first I was terrified. Also extremely sore. You try getting to where you can do a handstand on a railing, forever, like, forever. I was strong, but I became an animal. Juliet was used to that kind of hard training, from ski jumping. But I was not. In a few months, I could easily leg press my own weight. (NO! I'm not telling you my weight.) But I became so strong, and you saw that these people in the videos, they were truly powerful. They were showing off, but they also were just being who they were. They could do this amazing thing! I will always be grateful for that to Juliet. Juliet. Juliet is … you would say she was self-centered and into herself, and she is. But she's also the most giving, loving person if you're her person.
What are Juliet and Rob like? Would you say opposites attract with you and your friends or do you share a lot in common?
Well, Juliet is who you would want to be. She is gorgeous. Movie-star beautiful, little and blond and totally curvy. The girl of any guy's fantasy. But that isn't her thing. She's a complete jock. Well, she was. Focused on skiing, like she was looking into a microscope. She was going to be the first woman to ever compete in the Olympics as an aerialist. You know, because women were only allow to compete in the massive jumps since like, 2010, or something? It was this completely antediluvian attitude that it would hurt their female organs or something. No science, by the way! It was Juliet's whole life. She never felt the pain or the cold. It was like she was really real only when she was flipping through the sky, up in the air, above everything and everyone and all the little concerns of the world below. She is just … out there. She would say anything. She would do anything. She just didn't give a damn. You wanted to be with her, if you couldn't be her. The way the room explodes into life when she comes into it. She is just electric. She wants it to happen, she wills it to happen, it happens. I was in her shadow. Maybe a little. It would never seem like that to me. Now, well, I know…skiing wasn't actually her whole life. You could ask, how could I care so much about someone who lied so bad to me? And I have to say, look. She was helpless. She didn't mean to do that. I completely forgive her. You don't know her.
Me, I'm sort of quiet. And shy. I don't put up with BS, but I am not going to put myself out there. For somebody like Juliet, you might forgive…but not a complete lie. She was living a double life. I guess I don't want to talk about that.
Rob is completely the nicest, cutest guy on earth. Now, I have a disability. I have XP, which is basically this extreme sensitivity to light. So does Rob. So does Juliet. We were born with it. So, I didn't date, right? But I have eyes. And I know from other people. This is just the most kind, decent guy on earth. There is nothing he would not do for you. There is nothing that would make him ever betray you. Not ever. Nothing. He is completely loyal and brave. Not because I love him. Although I do. I adore him. If I could have picked anyone on earth to be my best friend and be in love with, it would have been Rob. And, hey. He was right there.
You stumbled into this mystery. Have you always been a Nancy Drew type or is this a completely new experience for you?
I did stumble into a mystery. You … you know, this was not, like, interesting to me. It was the most horrifying, terrifying thing in my life. Maybe because I fell into this, figuring out why people did those horrible things became what I want in my life. Maybe. I always wanted to know why, about everything, since I was a kid. And um, I'm sorry. Who is Nancy Drew?
Parkour and mysteries and forbidden romance. You definitely live an exciting life. Are you the kind of person who seeks out excitement or are you looking forward to the calm after the storm?
If you were like me, and everyone figured you were not just the sick kid, but maybe really not going to be around long, because people with XP, they didn't used to live very long, and most of them still don't, you would say, just, the hell with you. Just go ahead and write me off, but don't expect me to buy that. I wanted the thrills. Absolutely wanted the thrills. When we were kids, we trespassed. We picked locks and walked right into people's houses, ate their frozen ravioli, put everything back where we found it, well, except the wine bottles we took. Federal land, private land, tribal land, any land, we just didn't let anything be closed to us because the only thing we had was, we owned the night. The landscape of the night is not supposed to belong to human beings. Some poet said that “the night is the inn of the phantoms.” But if it was the only place you could be, then … own it. Now, I know what it's like to have things happen to you that really scare you. I know what it's like to have the sound of the blood in your ears like some kind of crazy drum and not because you're excited but because you believe that somebody is going to kill you and you're not paranoid, that person could kill you—and really, not in some fakey movie way. So, when I think of life, I don't care if one more thing exciting ever happens to me again. I just have this dread that I know it will.
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today and answering my questions!
Readers, What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard was published on January 8 so either head over to Amazon to order your copy or head out to your local bookstore. Oh and continue to look forward to many more awesome books from Soho Teen!